Since the release of her debut single, “Grace”, at the beginning of 2018, RIMON has been no stranger to the spotlight. When I catch up with the 22- year old singer ahead of the release of her second EP, “I Shine, U Shine”, in May, she speaks with open-minded excitement about her evolving artistic identity, and with refreshing candour about the journey that she’s been on over the past two years. Discussing the most recent portion of that journey — the months confined indoors due to Coronavirus — RIMON paints a highly relatable portrait of her lockdown experience. “I’m having these ups and downs,” she says, “sometimes I’m very productive and then other days I don’t feel like doing anything at all and I’m just drinking wine all day.”
The sun-drenched, soulful sounds of “I Shine, U Shine” come together with complex and mature lyrics to create a captivating EP that glides rapidly between love and fear. It’s not surprising to hear that RIMON was listening to a lot of Ari Lennox, Summer Walker and Mereba when she was writing, but her favourite track on the project — “Never Learned How to Cope” — is one that draws more on her love for abstract, alternative and melancholic music. In this department, the Eritrean-born and Amsterdam-raised artist tells me that James Blake, Tame Impala and The Weeknd are important touchstones for her. From the midst of such a diverse constellation of influences, RIMON’s light shines bright and broad.
“The way I approach music is actually the way I approach everything in life: I don’t really wanna be labelled as one thing,” she explains. “I’m trying to be fluid and able to do multiple things. I remember one girl said to me that she found it confusing that one day I would wear a dress and be very feminine, and then the next day I would be very tomboyish. She said maybe it would be good for my fanbase to have one look attached to my brand. But I don’t know, that would make me feel like I was stuck in a box. It’s the same with music. I don’t wanna do R&B all the time; I wanna do more things. For the album, I would love to combine all my influences into one crazy mixture of alternative R&B, not just soulful, but more like that melancholic way of approaching it.”
All clothing TALENTS OWN
All clothing TALENTS OWN
Although RIMON’s self-possession seems to be complete and impervious, she’s honest about how much she struggled with peoples’ expectations of her in the wake of “BBYGIRL FOCU$”, her first EP released in November 2018. “The difference with this EP [“I Shine, U Shine”] was that there was a lot of doubt in the beginning,” she recalls. “I dropped my first EP, and all of a sudden there was a lot of attention that I didn’t expect at all. Especially if you’re an introvert, like me, it’s very hard to be happy with every accomplishment that revolves around you. I wasn’t living in the moment; I was just really detached and I didn’t feel inspired because I was working all the time. The way I see it is that, in a way, my life got very comfortable and I couldn’t write about being comfortable. There was nothing to write about, nothing I was really experiencing other than going to a bunch of meetings every day and working every day. I don’t want to talk about catching flights. I want to write about real stuff and real things happen- ing. I needed to have some sort of fuel to even try to surpass my first project.”
RIMON speaks with awareness of the music industry’s extraordinary appetite, and with a degree of wariness of the trap it leads many young artists to fall into: releasing too much, too fast. Indeed, she bemoans the effect this pressure had on her own creative mindset for a long time. “I was really uncertain, but I just kept thinking, ‘I need to drop a project and it needs to be better than the first one and now people are expecting something,’” she explains. “As a new artist, you have to drop regularly; people need to constantly make noise for them not to be forgotten. I was very aware of that, but when you’re not feeling well mentally you can’t keep up with that momentum. Eventually, I thought, ‘Fuck that! It’s about making a good project and being proud and happy and confident.’ That’s when I started going to the studio more, out of a place of excitement rather than out of pressure. That’s when the songs started to come.”
Maybe pressure makes diamonds, but apparently freedom from it makes stars, and “I Shine, U Shine” glitters with artistic growth. Looking forward, it seems that RIMON’s appreciation for her mother’s culture may be about to propel her into new territory once more. “Last week I was recording and I suddenly started freestyling in Tigrinya, which is the main language of Eritrea. I was so shocked! I really liked how it came out and I want to do something with that part of my identity,” she tells me. “Maybe people are gonna rebel against what I’m gonna make, which I completely understand, but it’s a gateway, a door to new things.” Watch this space — RIMON is in the ascendant.